Southerners know a new home necessitates a well-stocked bar — stat. We love to drink and we love to host. Luckily, it’s easy to imbibe while supporting local Southern businesses. We pulled together a list of our favorite spirits to help you get started on your bar-stocking adventure. From Kentucky bourbon to New Orleans rum, your bar will give a new meaning to spirit of the South.
Below, find seven Southern-based spirit companies that you'll want to make sure make the cut at your home bar — or bar cart. Whether you like vodka or brandy, there is a spirit for everyone. And to make it even easier for you, we've included our favorite cocktail recipe in which to use each spirit. So go on ahead and and get to shopping.
Old 4th Distillery Vodka made in Atlanta, Georgia ($25.99-$29.99)
Most vodka is made from fermented grains like corn, wheat or rice. Old 4th Distillery opts instead for organic pure cane sugar sourced from a small Louisiana farm. The company prides itself on a green agenda, using environmentally-sound practices whenever possible. Atlanta’s first legal distillery in more than a century, Old 4th vodka is absolutely clear and tastes crisp with a quiet hint of that sugar cane base.
Try Old 4th vodka in a Moscow mule
Find your Old 4th Distillery retailer here
Dulce Vida Blanco Tequila made in Austin, Texas ($29.99-$39.99)
This organic distillery prioritizes using 100 percent blue agave harvested from the Highland Region of Jalisco, a western Mexican state famous for its tequila. The highlands’ elevation, temperature and red clay soil contribute to a slightly fruity tequila. Dulce Vida’s blanco variety boasts both spicy and sweet flavors, and it comes in two types; one is the standard 80 proof, the other is 100 proof — for when you really need that extra kick in the marg.
Try Dulce Vida in a margarita
Contact Dulce Vida to find your retailer
Sutler’s Spirit Co. Gin made in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (Starting at $29.95)
Sutler’s Spirit Co.’s name is a nod to the civilian merchants known as “sutlers” who sold to armies, particularly in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. The Kickstarter-born project now bases its operation in the former Hoots Roller Mill building, a once-robust flour mill now protected under the National Register of Historic Places Program, nestled in Winston-Salem’s historic West End district. Sutler’s offers juniper spirits in a black ceramic bottle with metallic script and the distinct taste of lavender and coriander.
Try Sutler’s Spirit Co. in a negroni
Contact Sutler’s to find your retailer
Old New Orleans Crystal Rum made in New Orleans, Louisiana ($17.99)
No one was making rum in the continental United States until Old New Orleans Rum attained its distiller’s license in 1995, when artist James Michalopoulos and his musician friends began experimenting with the sugar cane-based spirit. They have since perfected the process, offering four varieties: white, amber, 10-year and Cajun spice. The distillery continues its legacy, using Louisiana sugar cane and aging in charred American white oak caskets. Crystal, a white rum, uses pure vanilla to cradle its light body.
Try Old New Orleans Crystal Rum in a mojito
Contact Old New Orleans to find your retailer
High Wire Distilling New Southern Revival Brand Sorghum Whiskey made in Charleston, South Carolina (Starting at $49.99)
High Wire's head distiller Scott Blackwell founded renowned South Carolina bakery, Immaculate Consumption, so it’s no wonder it has such a knack for creating lightly candied booze. Inspired by Charleston chef Mike Lata’s famous sorghum pudding, this whiskey has strong dessert notes. Sorghum, a deeply Southern crop adopted from Africa, grows as a cereal grain like corn before being turned into a sweetening syrup. The distillery sources its sorghum from a Mennonite farm in central Tennessee, expanding the caramel-colored liquor’s Southern roots.
Try High Wire in a smoky twist on an Old Fashioned
Contact High Wire to find your retailer
Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery Belle Meade Bourbon made in Nashville, Tennessee ($40-$80)
Green Brier Distillery has deep family roots, beginning in the mid-1800s when Charlie Nelson bought the distillery as well as a patent for distillation. Although the company took a forced break when Prohibition was implemented in 1909, two of Nelson’s triple great grandsons reopened shop 100 years later in 2009. Andy and Charlie Nelson lead the distillery with a mission to restore the family legacy, including the production of its classic Belle Meade Bourbon. The Belle Meade Bourbon’s high rye content gives the caramel-colored liquor a warm spice, made even warmer by its 90 proof status.
Try Nelson’s in a Boulevardier
Contact Green Brier to find your retailer
Thirteenth Colony Distilleries Southern Rye Whiskey made in Americus, Georgia (Starting at $25)
Purists will rejoice at Thirteenth Colony Distilleries Southern Rye Whiskey’s 96 percent rye blend. For context, American rye whiskey must be distilled from at least 51 percent rye to officially qualify as rye. Thirteenth Colony Distilleries goes above and beyond the qualifications for this extremely smooth, clean tasting rye with a long, spicy tail.
Try Thirteenth Colony in a Manhattan
Find your Thirteenth Colony Distilleries retailer
Copper & Kings American Craft Brandy made in Louisville, Kentucky ($34.99)
Operating in Louisville, Kentucky’s Butchertown neighborhood, Copper & Kings specializes in copper pot-distilled brandy. After distillation, the spirit is dipped into a bourbon barrel to age for at least two years. No caramel coloring, sugar or other bells and whistles here. Just damn good brandy.
Try Copper & Kings in this twist on a French 75
Buy Cooper & Kings American Craft Brandy here
Photo (High Noon Old Fashioned): Ideabar Austin
Photo (Gatling Gun Cocktail): Jerry Slater
All other photos: Ramona King